Gojal area of the Karakorum mountains
Pakistan glossary












17 January 2001



Section 1
Today I am sitting in Room # 103 of Taj Hotel. In front of the hotel is located the office of agricultural development bank Gilgit and the hotel palace is situated in the back. To the left is located the main bazaar of Gilgit. It is the 17th of January, seven o’clock in the evening, I am sitting with Mr. Raza, who has been the chairman of our Tariqa (religious education) board and currently he is rendering services as the coordinator of social welfare board. I have come on behalf of the joint venture project of SNT and PANOS to Mr Raza to share with us his experiences and to convey it to the audiences. I hope that Mr. Raza will provide us with his views and experiences.

Mr. Mohammad Raza! Assalam-o Alaikum (peace be with you)
How old are you at the moment?
Mr. Samim (interviewer)! I would like to thank the management of PANOS and the SNT that they provided me with the opportunity to convey my views to the larger audiences. At the moment I am 37 years old.

Where were you born?
I was born in Shimshal

From where did you marry? Was it in accordance with your own will or your parents will?
Samim sahib (Sir, term of respect)! I married according to my own will and with the consent of my parents.

How many generations of your family have passed in Shimshal?
Thirteen generations of my family have passed in Shimshal.

Would you please tell me that during these thirteen generations have any of your ancestors, carried out a remarkable job?
Yes of course in every family there have been certain persons who have done remarkable jobs. Likewise, in my family one of our grandfathers named Ramazan had done an excellent job - he had constructed an irrigation channel which resulted in surplus land to our family and he was also an architect and he constructed kongra (tower for observing the sun for Shimshal calendar). It was one of his greatest works.
Section 2
As you mentioned that your grandfather constructed kongra, what was the impact of this kongra on your family?
Samim sahib! The construction of the kongra did not benefit our family instead it caused great loss to our family. Because the design of the kongra built in Shimshal was very similar to the design of the Mir’s palace in Hunza (Mir was the ruler of Hunza up to 1974). The then numberdar reported it to the Mir that Ramazan had copied the design of his palace in Shimshal. So the Mir deemed it as an insult and authorised the numberdar (government representative in the village) to fine my grandfather and a large portion of our agricultural lands were confiscated as a fine which caused us a huge loss but thanks to that grandfather that he constructed another channel which increased our land and benefited us.

Well master (teacher) sahib! You are serving the village as teacher and in the past there were neither educational facilities nor resources available, so how and where did you acquire education?
Samim sahib! I received my primary education from the D.J (Diamond Jubilee) primary school of Shimshal. Then I went to Gulmit because there was no middle school in our village - so I continued my studies in Gulmit middle school. Here I passed middle level. After passing the middle level I went to Gilgit and I passed matriculation (secondary school certificate) from the high school in Gilgit.

Janab (Mr) master sahib! When you passed matriculation (secondary school certificate) from Gilgit high school why you did not continue your education? What were the constraints?
Janab Samim sahib! The first reason was that my parent’s economic condition was not good enough to support my further education. When I passed my matriculation there was a position of a teacher vacant in Shimshal, so I joined that position. Secondly it was the immense desire of my mother that I should choose teaching as a profession and improve their economic conditions. She was inspired by Aman ullah and Sher Ali as teachers and wanted me to be a teacher, so she insisted me to become a teacher in order to improve their economic condition and also to support my brother and sister’s education.

You chose teaching as profession, what was the impact of this profession on your family?
The impact of this profession on my family was that I educated my sister up to matriculation and also supported my brother. Though I could not support my sister beyond matriculation - she also joined the teaching profession -I took my brother as far as Karachi for better education and he graduated from Karachi.

Janab master sahib I want to ask you about the Boy’s Middle School of Shimshal. How are the education standards of our children and the school? What is your opinion about it?
Janab Samim sahib! The education standard in the village is not as good as in the city; there are several reasons for that. The first reason is that our village is located far away from the Karakoram highway; there are no means of communication resulting in a lack of educational facilities in our school. Secondly there is no proper school building: there are only three rooms for nine classes and there are five teachers. In such circumstances we cannot impart the kind of education that our children deserve. As two teachers share one classroom and each of the two teachers teach their students in the same room, due to which the students cannot concentrate in the presence of the other class, or one class is kept waiting till the other class is over. In such a way we cannot fully concentrate on the students and most of their time in school is wasted either waiting for the teacher or playing. This is the major reason of the decline in education standards.
Then there is another reason - that is teacher training. Regular training is provided to the teachers of the Aga Khan Education Service (AKES) whereas the training facility is not available to the Government teachers. In the teaching profession training is the best tool to improve the knowledge and skill of the teachers and that ultimately benefits the children (students). But we cannot give them the quality education… as I mentioned earlier the facilities (education tools) such as blackboards, chairs and desks, education charts etc these things we cannot transport to the village and the lack of facilities also affects the educational conditions in the village.
One more thing I observed is that since the time I joined the school as a teacher the educational standards have improved as compared to the former times. In the beginning of the government school there were only three teachers in the school and each one would take four periods (classes) but today we are five teachers and each one of us teaches three classes each. Secondly we try our level best to take advantage of the training opportunities provided by the AKES and also offer the students the subjects which are not in the curriculum of the government schools but are taught in AKES schools. It is just to improve the quality of education of the students in order to enable them to move ahead. But still I feel that our students are not capable to compete with other students in the down country areas (refers to the rest of Pakistan).
Section 3
As you talked about meritocracy and that our children are not capable to compete, I would like to ask you what course of action in your view, should we follow that will make our children capable to compete with the students in the down valley (refers to Hunza and Gojal) and the students in the city?
Though they (students) are not capable to compete with other students, it can be improved to some extent if the parents provide the necessary stationery (books and note books) to their children and the government construct a complete school building and also provide teachers required for middle standard school. This will help improve the education and enable the students to compete with others.

Janab master sahib! As you belong to the educational profession, my question to you is that our young generation are going out of the village for getting education. After completing their education when they will return to the village what changes in your opinion will they bring to the village, what is you opinion about that?
Janab Samim sahib! Knowledge begets knowledge. The same way as Daulat Amin the only educated person came to the village, he educated ten, fifteen people and these people are educating more people of the village hence serving the community. Those who got education from ustad (teacher) Daulat Amin, they are educating more young and they went out of the village. The more educated persons in a village the more progress the village will make and the people will become civilised. Those people, who went out of the village, got much better education and their children would also acquire quality education and when they will return to the village they will cause more education in the village. More people will get employment and our society will make progress.
Section 4
Well master sahib! My question to you is, in which of our social institutions did you serve, would you like to tell something about it?
Janab Samim sahib! When I returned to the village as a teacher in 1983, it was my immense desire to serve the village through social institutions other than my professional responsibilities as a teacher, so first of all I joined the volunteers. After serving as a volunteer for six years, I was entrusted with the responsibilities of the secretary of the volunteers. Thereafter I served as a member of the Tariqa board and then I was nominated as chairman Tariqa board. I also served the library as joint secretary and at present I am serving the Aga Khan Social Welfare Board as coordinator.

Very good Mr Raza, you talked nicely about your social services. I would like to ask you - as you served the community as secretary of the volunteers - what is your impression of the volunteers?
The volunteers is a service institution and you know that when I joined the volunteers it had no office building and we would hold our meetings in private houses. Then we thought to build our own premises in order to hold our meetings and keep our records and activity reports in safe custody, so we undertook to build an impressive conference hall with an office for the volunteers and I think it was a great job. Secondly I always tried in my tenure to complete all the routine works and keep the records such as registration, minutes of meetings and the personal service records of the volunteers as to when an individual joined and retired from the volunteers.

Very good Raza sahib. Now my question to you is that after retirement from the volunteers you served another important institution as chairman – the Tariqa board. What was your feeling about the community and also please tell us how you served the community through these institutions?
Janab Samim sahib! When I joined the Tariqa board as chairman at that time in my view, the jamat (community) had no clear understanding of the activities and responsibilities of the institution as we were more related to providing religious education to the youth. But when I took over as chairman I felt the shortage of religious guides in the village that are responsible for imparting religious education and we were also lacking the pre-school buildings. So my priority was to get more teachers (religious guides) appointed and make efforts to try to build pre-school buildings at several localities. When I undertook this assignment I needed the help of the community and without their assistance it was not possible to construct the buildings. Therefore I appealed to the community for their generous assistance for the pre-school building; the institution came up with a positive response and donated 18000 rupees for the construction of the building. The community then formed a committee and carried out the task with great zeal and enthusiasm. According to the numberdar, such enthusiasm was exhibited by the jamat for the first time during at the construction of the jamat khana (religious community centre of Ismaili muslims) and the second time the jamat showed such devotion was the construction of this pre-school building. The entire jamat including the men, women and children equally participated in this activity. I also requested for the appointment of teachers, which was accepted, and three more teachers were appointed. I also established a pre-school in Khizerabad for which the community extended their full support. However it caused a little problem for us; that was the transportation of the school furniture. We transported chairs and cupboards for the school as there was no provision from the institution for the transportation of this furniture to Shimshal therefore I requested the boy scouts and volunteers to transport the furniture to the village as we have no other way of transporting it except carrying it on our backs. But I could not get a positive response from them. Then I tried to get the furniture transported to the village with the help of the tourist guides and I paid the transportation charges from my own pocket to some people in order to transport the furniture to the village.
Section 5
Mr. Raza! You know that several institutions are functioning in our village and the conciliation and arbitration committee is one of these institutions. How do you compare the government judiciary system with our local arbitration system?
Janab Samim sahib! You had asked me about my community services so I would like to tell you that I had also served as convener of the Conciliation and Arbitration Committee of Shimshal. The function of this committee is such that when two persons or parties are annoyed due to some dispute, they approach the committee. Then the committee tries to bring them to an understanding of compromise. In such situation both could not be right or wrong; the one who is at wrong, the institution persuades him to apologise and at the same time the other must have the goodwill to forgive him. In this way the dispute is amicably resolved and compromise is made among them. In this process, the major contribution is from the parties in settlement of their problem because one has to accept their mistake and apologise and the other has to forgive him for his mistake. If both the parties exhibit the spirit of brotherhood and goodwill the dispute is resolved quickly. The disputes I dealt with were resolved quickly without any complications and the parties compromised.
As far as the government’s courts of law are concerned, every one knows the justice is unfair and the process is too long and expensive. Most of the people I know, they spent money for many years in the court and at the end got no justice. They were given appointments for appearing in the court after a month or so and are put in the process for several years without any outcome. People not only from the village but also from the outer communities, after spending much of their resources in the court of law, approached the reconciliation and arbitration committee for justice, because here arbitration is made without any financial burden on the parties.
Although these institutions are only for Ismailis many of our Muslim brothers from other communities have also approached our institution and transferred their cases from the court to the institution for quick and fair resolution of their disputes. In such a way many of our Muslim brothers were obviated from spending their valuable resources in the court and fair justice were provided to them.
Section 6
You are doing business (running a shop) in Gilgit too. What differences did you observe between business in the village and that in the city?
Janab Doctor (male nurse) sahib! Although I am not doing business, my brother has his shop in Gilgit but there are a lot of differences between city and village business. In the village there are few customers as the population is few and the people have less money to spend in the village. In the city there are a lot of people and the customers from the outskirts also come to the city for trading. There are multiple sources of earning in the city; there are employment opportunities in the city so people have buying power and can spend money in the city shops, whereas in the village few people have the money. Secondly, in the city people do not purchase on a loan basis; they buy through cash. Whereas in the village people don’t have the money and they get the things on a loan basis that stops the business in the village. In the city the situation is quite different, everyone does business or service and they have money in their pockets so they spend the money. Secondly the people from the outskirts also come to the city and particularly the people from our village as a gesture of goodwill, come to our shop and spend money. People in the city make shopping through cash and this flourishes the business in the city.

Are you satisfied with your business in the city?
It is the first year of my business and I had the particular objective of starting the business in the city so that I can shift my children to the city for better education, as there is no appropriate facility for quality education in the village. But it seems to me that I would not meet my objectives, as the business is not as much profitable as was anticipated hence it cannot support the educational expenses of my children.

You said that the people in the village possess less money as compared to those in the city as there are limited sources of income in the village. But I think that there are much more earnings in the village from the sale of salajit (mineral: storax). What is your opinion about it?
Janab Doctor sahib! You talked about salajit. It is certainly the major source of earning in the village. But you know it well that we have no market in Shimshal for salajit. Its main market is Gilgit; our people sell it in Gilgit and also spend the money earned through the sale of salajit in Gilgit to purchase their daily use commodities. Hence the money does not circulate in the village and I think the city men get the advantages of this money rather then the village people.
Section 7
Master sahib! It is said that good health is a blessing. I want to know something about your health. Would you like to tell us if ever you fell ill?
Janab Doctor sahib! I would like to share with you an interesting incident.

Okay please go ahead!
One day I had just laid on my bed when a fear sparked in my mind. I thought that I was going to die, so quickly I went out of my house to reach the doctor as soon as possible as I was worried about my life. But the doctor was living far off from my house; there was a channel flowing close to my house so I jumped in to the canal and I poured cold water on my head and after a while recovered a little bit. I went back to my house and tried to sleep but again the same fear reappeared in my mind and I felt my heart sinking and I thought that I was going to die by heart attack. I jumped out of my bed; my parents and my aunt was worried about my health. My aunt went out to call the doctor and after some time the doctor came and he gave me the necessary treatment/injection but I was not satisfied. He took me to his house. It was about midnight when I entered his house he had some guests from AKRSP (Aga Khan Rural Support Program); they saw me in shorts and my shirt and face was covered with mud as I had jumped into the muddy canal. When the guest from AKRSP saw me he became worried and asked the doctor as to what had happened to me. Anyhow the doctor advised me to take rest and I was again vaccinated. But the fear and unrest prevailed whenever the doctor would go away I felt that if I was going to die. I requested the doctor not to leave me alone, it was just my feeling that if he is away I would die. Then despite having guests in his house he accompanied me, some other friends also came to me when they heard about my health. It was about 12 pm when I was caught with the same feeling that I was going to die of a heart attack. Then I requested my friend and the doctor to take me round the village. So they accompanied me and we walked around the village till 5 o’clock in the morning. Then we returned to his house where they fell asleep and I was still roaming around the village wearing a long chugha (woollen overcoat). I returned to the house where they were sleeping but I had the fear in my mind lest I sleep and die.
Anyhow I escaped from the illness. I think it was not an illness but a psychological problem or some cardiac problem that convinced me that I was going to die. Our dispensers (male nurses) accompanied me throughout the night and took me round the village. When I became normal and wanted to go to my house I found that I was in shorts and could not walk through the village to my house as everyone was going out for there routine activities. Therefore, I wore a long chugha and went to my house where my parents were waiting for me anxiously, they were worried about my health but thanks to God that I was safe.
The next day I was attacked by the same fear then I went to my uncle Samim house who is taking my interview and is also a dispenser. I remained with him throughout the day and I also spent the night in his house in order to save my life. He also helped me get rid of the feeling anyhow God saved my life. It was probably a mental disease or due to some mental stress. I requested him, to provide me with a vaccination but he said that I had already been vaccinated with penicillin despite the fact that it was not a illness but a just a feeling for which there is no treatment except to get rid of the fear and try to be comfortable. Then I tried to make myself happy by getting busy with routine works. This situation prevailed for three days and I was almost sure that I was going to die. The next day when I went to school and my colleagues discussed with me in detail about my fear, I was still having the fear of death. They tried to keep this feeling out of my mind and they also arranged a volleyball match just to keep me busy. I think I would have died if my colleagues, the two dispensers had not helped me get out of this fear. They tried to keep me happy for three, four days and [tried to] convince me that it was just a mental problem. They vaccinated me but did not suggest any medicine and they also advised me not to become tense, but I had the feeling in my mind that I was going to die and I would be buried. They did a lot for me, they took me around the village and remained with me till morning and could not sleep just to save my life which was a great sacrifice on there part.
Section 8
Yes Mr. Raza I remember the incident, and you said that you had saved your life but I would say that it was us who saved your life by providing you with the vaccination.
Janab doctor sahib! When I say that I saved my life it was for the reason that when I was attacked by the fear I requested you to give me the necessary medicines or vaccine but you refused to provide me medicine instead you told me that it was not an illness at all, hence it had no treatment. It was my own efforts to get out of this mental stress as you also suggested me to try to keep myself busy and happy. Secondly the cold and muddy water also helped mitigating my feeling of fear of death.

Janab Raza sahib! I want to ask you that what are the benefits of nomus for the village?
Janab Samim sahib! Nomus played a revolutionary role in the development of our community. When our ancestors came here there was nothing here, no infrastructure such as tracks, channels, houses etc. With the increase in population the requirements of people for agricultural land also increased and dispersed settlement took place. People also required frequent communication and interaction that required reliable tracks and we also travelled around our territory and so houses were also required throughout the area as camping huts. There was no concept of financial aid from the government. It was nomus that helped the community to develop its infrastructure. People constructed irrigation channels, which resulted in utilisation of more agricultural land that benefited the community. The entire source of subsistence in the village is agriculture and the construction of more and more channels through nomus enabled the people to use more land for cultivation and hence increase production. Not all the [livestock] products are used in Shimshal. [The surplus] is transported to other areas and you know that Shimshal was in an isolated location and the journey was extremely difficult. Therefore, to transport the products to other parts of the area we needed reliable trails and thus tracks in the entire area were also constructed through nomus. We constructed the trails from Passu to Shimshal, to the Shimshal pass and even beyond the Shimshal pass up to Sherlik. People offered their resources in the name of their loved ones such as fathers, mothers, brothers, wives and other relatives and performed nomus and constructed channels, huts, trails and bridges. This helped the village to make progress.
Section 9
I would like to ask you that what is the role of AKRSP in the development of Shimshal? Would you like to comment on it?
Janab doctor sahib! AKRSP revolutionised development not only in Shimshal, but in the entire northern areas. AKRSP revolutionised development not only in Shimshal, but in the entire northern areas. It brought communities closer and developed brotherhood among them. It also helped the people through saving and pooling their resources and utilising them for their community development. It caused financial development and mental development of the people. It changed the perception of the people.
We discussed about nomus: that people had offered their wealth in the name of Allah and carried out charitable works. When AKRSP came to the village it organised the people in the form of social organisations. People got united, pooled their resources and started saving money. They taught the people how to save money. Thereafter people started saving with petty amounts. It was the general perception of the people that savings could only be possible with thousands or hundreds of thousands of rupees, but AKRSP taught the people that savings can be made even with a single rupee. They advised us that if a certain amount is saved weekly it would be a considerable amount after some years, and this amount could be utilised for the education of children or in any emergency situation. People then started saving money; though we are not on a par with other areas in terms of savings, still some people have saved considerable amounts.
Thereafter we were in desperate need of a road link to our village. When AKRSP asked the community what we intend to do with our savings, and if AKRSP gives the community a certain amount, what would the community do with this money? Then the community committed [themselves] to undertake the construction work of the Shimshal link road. Whatever amount i.e. one rupee, or five rupees, AKRSP contributes it would be utilised on the road work. It was the major problem of the community and the government of Pakistan had surveyed this project several times and declared it unfeasible. People knew that prosperity could only come with the road link and without the road link our village cannot make progress. Therefore people started constructing the road with the money AKRSP had donated, and the work continued for about six years. This precedent of community work made the impossible possible for the government as well, to initiate this project. People worked on a self-help basis and the necessary assistance like the cost of explosives, diesel and food stuff was covered by AKRSP. People provided free labour and set an example to the government. When the government observed that an NGO with the help of the community members initiated the impossible work then the government felt it as a matter of prestige and therefore the government launched the bid for the construction of this road and started construction of the road work. Thanks to AKRSP who initiated this work. Without their support, the construction work of the road would have never started.

Master sahib! As we are discussing nomus, could you please tell me what impact the road would have on our lives?
Janab Doctor sahib! Each one of us feel that we can’t initiate what we intend to do and the government also does not meet our demands for socio-economic development due to the unavailability of the road link. We transport our commodities for daily use on our backs even today, but if the road linked the village it will cause development in the village and bring prosperity. Although we have our own electric power station it is insufficient to meet our needs as it is seasonal but if the road is linked there would be another power station that could be used throughout the year1. As I talked about the school building, the government will construct the complete school building as soon as the road is linked to the village. The main hindrance in the way of development is the unavailability of the road. We have the dispensary available in the village but there are no medicines, we can only transport the medicine on our backs, if by chance a helicopter comes to the village it transports the medicine otherwise it remains down there (Gilgit). If the road is completed the health problems will also be eased. Most probably the dispensary would be converted to a hospital and a specialist doctor would possibly be posted to the village; that would solve our health problems. Today people transport their commodities for daily use on their back and this physical exertion causes several diseases - that hardship will also vanish with the road linkage. More and more tourists will visit the village; they are reluctant today due to high transportation costs. The tourism industry will flourish in the village with road link and that would eventually increase the income of the people.
Section 10
Very well master sahib! You talked about the benefits of the road would you please tell us what disadvantages the road link will bring with it?
Yes it would certainly cause some disadvantages. At present according to my experiences, the disadvantages it caused to our society are the lack of cooperation and mutual respect for each other as people interact with the outside communities and [take on] their values. Today people also prefer to live independently and this causes changes in our culture and values. When people return to the village from the cities they undermine our customs and values. Most probably our culture will change and the spirit of cooperation and unity would weaken and people would think and act as individuals. This would create gap between the people.

Very well master sahib! My question to you is, do you know who was the first to introduce radio in the village?
Though I was quite young I had heard from my father that grandfather Mohammad Ata was the first to introduce radio in the village. Nobody had heard about radio, even in Hunza people didn’t know about radio. The Mir was the only one to possess a radio. When our people went to the Mir, he told them about the world news and about the weather forecast; people were astonished as to how an iron box could talk about the weather and other things. When they returned to the village they told people in the village that they had seen a unique machine in the Mir’s palace that can talk about the events taking place in the world such as the visits of the prime minister of a certain country, about snowfall in certain city. This was unbelievable for the people in the village. According to my father, when Mohammad Ata bought a radio everyone would go to listen to the radio; my father would also go to his house as they were close relatives of my father. Mohammad Ata’s wife was the aunt of my father so my father would go to his house to listen to the radio but could not understand what it was talking about as very few people could understand Urdu (the national language) at that time. They would regularly listen to the iron box that talked about the events without knowing how it talks and what causes it to talk.
Section 11
Well we talked about radio. Do you listen to the radio?
Yes I regularly listen to the radio, because there is no other means of information and entertainment. As I mentioned earlier that there is no road link to the village and therefore we don’t have newspapers and television in the village that could keep us abreast of the situation around the world. We can only know the news around the world through radio.

Do you think radio is important for Shimshal?
Yes, radio is very important for Shimshal as I told you earlier that we have no other means to know the situation around the world. Radio is the only source that provides us with information about the world. Today we have a wireless set (radio phone) available in the village that keeps us in contact with other parts of the area. But prior to it radio was the only source of information. As important events, meetings etc. were announced through radio station Gilgit. That was the source to convey important messages to the people but now a wireless set has been installed in the village that provides us with better opportunity of communication.

In former times when there were no facilities like radio in the village, then how would people convey important messages to one another? What difference do you feel in the olden and present time?
A very good question Janab doctor sahib! Certainly it was quite difficult to deliver a message from Shimshal to Gilgit or Passu. In the Mir’s regime one way of delivering a message was to send a lubi (border security personnel) to convey the message. There was a second way of delivering message to the down valley. This way of message was used only to convey the message that there is a flood caused by the bursting of the Shimshal lake. The procedure was such that people were sent to different locations that are visible from both sides along the way from Shimshal to Passu. When the lake would burst the person close to the lake would light a fire in the night or make smoke in the daytime. The next person would immediately make a fire at his place that was visible to the next viewpoint. In this way the message that there is a flood would reach [the down valley] in minutes. The third way of delivering messages was that when someone would come from Pamir (Shimshal’s mountain pastures) he would create a dust cloud and people across the river in the village would understand that there was some emergency (in Pamir) so they would immediately reach to the place. These were the means of communication or delivery of messages in the olden times. But today as I told you that people convey messages through letters and radio. At that time there was no postal service system. Now the letters are received in Gulmit but the radio phone is the quickest means of delivering messages. But in olden times delivering messages through lighting fire or making dust cloud was not so clear as to what had happened. People would not understand the problem. But today we convey clear messages to each other through radiophone.
Section 12
Janab master sahib! As you know very well nowadays lots of tourists visit our village and that benefits us. Would you please tell me as to how many climbers are there in Shimshal?
There are about 12 to 15 climbers in Shimshal. Among these 15 climbers four or five climbers have scaled the highest peaks in Pakistan. They had not only brought about a good name and recognition to Shimshal and the Northern Areas but to Pakistan as well. They raised the flag of Pakistan on these highest peaks. Rajab Shah, Mehrban Shah, Aziz Baig, Mohammad Ullah and Mohammad Yousuf Khan are the most famous persons among the Shimshali mountaineers. Subedar (sergeant) Mohammad Yousuf Khan and Havildar (sergeant) Mohammad Ullah belonged to the Pakistan Army and the rest of the climbers were civilians. These famous people brought recognition to Pakistan and they are not only known in Pakistan but also in the world. It is for this reason that our village became famous for quality climbers.

Janab master sahib! I want to ask you what is the impact of the angrez (western tourists) on our society?
The income of the people increased with the influx of the tourists. As our sole source of existence was agriculture and herding but it alone could not meet our necessities. We meet our needs through tourism. In summer most of the people travel with tourists and earn a handsome amount; that amount is utilised throughout the year to meet their health, education and daily needs. The disadvantage is that the influx of tourists causes pollution as most of the angrez spread pollution (solid waste) and that spoils our beautiful landscape. This pollution then causes several diseases. It is most probable that the increase in tourism will cause a decline in unity and mutual cooperative works and people will adopt their (the tourists) habits (material thoughts). In our society the major part of our earnings comes from tourism. That has caused several youths to abandon their education and take up tourism for earning because they prefer money to education. So I have the apprehension in my mind for the Shimshal youth that they will prefer to earn money from tourists rather than get education. At present many of our youths work as porters with tourists instead of going to school. This trend has very badly affected the education in the village. Very badly affected…

Master sahib! You talked about tourists very well - that they make the village polluted. In your view, is it necessary that a team must come to the village to clean up the village?
Yes it is very important that the clean-up expeditions (expeditions to remove rubbish and equipment left by previous mountaineering groups) that visit Pakistan must also visit our valley and in collaboration with our own institutions carry out the clean-up operation. This could only be possible with the help of ministry of tourism of Pakistan. The expedition must include the locals, as they know the area. My advice is that they should support the local institutions so that the local people could keep their environment clean. This will enable to maintain the natural beauty of our landscape.

It is evident from the discussion with you that the high inflow of tourists has caused our youth to abandon their education. If the tourist do not visit our village what would be the source of earning than?
There are many sources of earnings. Good education is also a source of earning. There are many people from our village who got the best education and got good positions (jobs). They are not only supporting their children but also supporting their entire family. Many people in the village possess lots of livestock, which can support them throughout their lifetime. Tourism is important but not vital for the community. It is an easy source of earning that has diverted the entire attention of the people even the students are more attentive to the tourism rather then to education.
Section 13
Master sahib! You also participate in village games and one of our friends has praised you in his poetry. So please tell us what games do you like to play?
Among the games I like volleyball and cricket. I was a good player of volleyball in my youth. Now I am in a stable age but still I participate in volleyball matches. Cricket is also my favourite game though I could not play very well but I always join the team and enjoy the match because it is my favourite game.

Raza sahib! As you told that you take interest in games. Would you please tell us that how many matches did you win?
Janab Samim sahib! Al Shams sports club arranged the Aman Khan memorial cup cricket tournament and I also participated in the tournament as captain of the team despite the fact that I am not a very good cricketer but luckily we won the match and won the cup. In this match I represented the Aga Khan reconciliation and arbitration board.

My question for you is what are your views about the SNT and the National Park?
Janab Samim sahib! SNT (Shimshal Nature Trust) and the national park have almost the same idea. The national park is an international idea for the conservation of wildlife i.e. to conserve the birds, wild animals and the plants so that these do not vanish from the earth. There are many species that have become extinct from there but in our village (area) there is no risk of extinction as the wildlife and domestic animals have been living in the same area for many centuries in coexistence. The idea of SNT is to conserve wildlife as [part of] the environment. In my opinion both the national park and the SNT are working for the common objective but the difference is that the management style of national park is authoritarian whereas SNT believes in community participation. Community involvement is based on indigenous ideas and practices of conservation that is more effective than one-man rule (authoritarian style) and such style of management mostly fails, whereas self-motivated community initiatives are long lasting. The basic idea of both the organisations is the same but the national park pressurises the people for its implementation, but SNT ensures active involvement of the community in the management process. It believes that the community who have been living in the same environment can better care for their area and the wildlife.

What were the hunting practices in former times?
Janab Samim sahib! As you know very well that hunting was the favourite pastime of the people in former times. The individual did not consume the game but it was distributed among the community members. The hunters were named as pehlawan (hunter) and respected in the society. Pehlawan was a symbol of bravery and honour and people respected them. Because they would feed the people with their game and people were thankful to them. It was the time of poverty, in some places people in the pastures would not find anything to feed their children. In such situations hunters would feed the people with their game. At that time there were no restrictions on hunting and people would enjoy hunting and would joyfully describe all the events of their hunting excursions. If someone would go on a hunting trip, people would anxiously wait for his return with the expectation that he will bring game for them to eat and they would enjoy it. They were very cooperative and would never argue over the jurisdiction of hunting and would always praise each others’ hunting skills. The respect for a hunter is evident from the fact that a person with the name of certain deceased hunter is s till regarded with the name pehlawan which indicates the respect and tribute to that hunter.
Section 14
Thanks master sahib, for the very nice discussion regarding the hunting skill of the ancient people. Presently what is the status of hunting in our village?
Not only in our village but in the entire country (Pakistan) the wildlife are protected through national parks and through community-based organisations in their respective areas, and hunting has been banned all over the country to protect the wildlife from extinction. In former times the hunters were rewarded with the title of siyod (great hunter) but today he is liable to penalty or trial if he violates the ban on hunting [and he could be] sent to prison. However those who have the permission from the government are exempted from it but they are also restricted to certain rules and regulations of hunting such as the, number and age of the game to be hunted. They are also bound to hunt the old game. This also gives financial benefits to the community as the hunting is exercised through the community institutions. All those poachers in Shimshal and elsewhere in the area who have no valid licence are subjected to trial/fine under the country’s law and they are sent to the prison which is a punishment for them.
There is a lot of difference in people’s perception of hunting in former times and the present era. In former times it was a prestigious pastime and symbol of bravery. These people were rewarded with the title of siyod but today hunters are called thieves and they are put to trial and kept in jail.

Master sahib! Do you like songs? You are requested to sing your favourite song if any. I hope today you sing a song for me.
Though I do not possess a good voice I will try to sing you a very short song but I can’t say the name of the poet.

It’s okay we are concerned with the song not the poet.
Ae Bulbul nadan hamish cheezar tu pareeshone (“Oh innocent (unwise) nightingale why are you always so restless (worried)?”
Section 15
1 The small micro-hydel can currently only run during the summer months when there is sufficient glacial melt water. Once the road is built more resources and equipment can be easily transported to Shimshal to build an improved system.